Health

George Wald, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

American scientist known for his work with retinal pigments. He won and shared the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Haldan Keffer Hartline and Ragnar Granit.

Wald (1906-1997) was born in New York to Isaac Wald and Ernestine Rosenmann, Jewish immigrant parents. He was a member of the first graduating class of Brooklyn Technical High School in New York in 1922.

received his degree Bachelor of Science from New York University in 1927 and his PhD in zoology from Columbia University in 1932. After graduation, he received a traveling grant from the US National Research Council. Wald used this trip to work in Germany together with Otto Heinrich Warburg who was the one who identified vitamin A in the retina. Wald went to work in Zurich, Switzerland with the discoverer of vitamin A, Paul Karrer. Wald also worked briefly with Otto Fritz Meyerhof in Heidelberg, Germany, but left Europe for the University of Chicago in 1933 when Adolf Hitler came to power and life in Europe for Jews was in danger.

In 1934 Wald went to Harvard University where he became an instructor and then a professor. He was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 1950 and in 1967 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries of vision.

Wald also spoke on various social and political issues and his fame as a Nobel Prize winner made his opinion nationally and internationally famous. He was an opponent of the Vietnam War and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Along with a small number of Nobel Prize winners, he was invited in 1986 to fly to Moscow to alert Mikhail Gorbachev about environmental questions. Meanwhile, he questioned Gorbachev’s arrest, detention and exile of Yelena Bonner and her husband, Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, (Peace, 1975). Wald reported that Gorbachev said he knew nothing about it. Bonner and Sakharov were released after a short time, in December 1986.

Member of the Circumcision resource center in Boston, he was one of the first scientists committed against circumcision, but his article “Circumcision”, rejected by the New York Times in 1975, was published in 2012 only by an English magazine (http://churchandstate .org.uk/2012/12/what-jewish-nobelist-george-wald-had-to-say-about-circumcision/ Archived 21 September 2020 at the Wayback Machine.)

His second wife was Ruth Hubbard, a biochemist and the first woman to hold a tenured position as a professor at Harvard University.

Wald died in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

FSource: Wikipedia

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